Wednesday, August 09, 2017


I saw Susie Ibarra play live 21 years ago - I didn't know who she was before the show, and not sure if I figured out her name during it, or immediately afterwards, but she made a huge impression on me as the drummer in the David S. Ware Quartet, with Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on bass, and the late Mr. Ware on saxophone. A a great, great band filled with absolute heavyweights on every instrument. I'm lucky I got to see them.

Flash forward to the present, when, just a couple weeks ago, I learned that for a few years early in the 2000s, Ibarra played in an all-female improvising band called Mephista, releasing two CDs in 2002 and 2004 on John Zorn's Tzadik label, Black Narcissus and Entomological Reflections. It was Ibarra on percussion, Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, and Ikue Mori on electronics, and they created a very distinctive, idiosyncratic minimalist/maximalist trio sound together. Out of all the records released on Tzadik, I've probably heard less than 10% of them, and I probably would've never even known these two from Mephista existed either, if it wasn't for listening to Ibarra being interviewed by Jeremiah Cymerman on his 5049 Records podcast. That led me to these YouTubes, and a few more out there, and now I'm eyeing online secondhand sale copies of those aforementioned CDs (as far as I can tell there's nothing else in their discography, though they are still somewhat active, having played as recently as November 2016).

POSTSCRIPT: Susie Ibarra was also just interviewed at The Trap Set! 

Thursday, August 03, 2017


Strange how, even after Led Zeppelin III gets you into Roy Harper, and you get beyond Astral Weeks into Pentangle, Davey Graham, John Martyn, and the Incredible String Band, eventually finding an even more inner tier where Clive Palmer, Michael Chapman, Wizz Jones, and Bridget St. John all dwell, and you now know just how brilliant a movement of wide-open progressive folk/jazz/blues singer/songwriter/players there really was in 1970s Britain (read Electric Eden by Rob Young and prepare to go deeper still), you can still have no idea who Mike Cooper is until the estimable Paradise of Bachelors label begins to reissue his 1970s LPs sometime in the mid-2010s. That's exactly how it happened to me, anyway, and after listening to them online and being rather blown away, the one I've gotten deep into via my very own vinyl copy is Trout Steel and man, I hope to go deeper still; the mix of folk, blues, free jazz, and slipstream poetics (the title comes from Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America) is absolutely luminous, and still with a rough loose gutbucket approach that is like a cold fresh wind blowing down a hill, the tracks feeling live in a room, Cooper's keening and wry voice, a couple acoustic guitars, a stand-up bass, and some wild saxophone blowing the doors off, all in the service of wistful love/life songs like my stone cold favorite, "Don't Talk Too Fast" (listen above if you haven't already). And then there's stuff on here like "Pharaoh's March," named in honor of Mr. Sanders himself, a 12-minute-long free jazz/folk instrumental that comes late in side two and blows the doors off the whole album.


Your friendly music blogger, pictured here in completely unstaged fashion, not just enjoying Trout Steel while reading the accompanying booklet, but veritably becoming ONE with it and its creator........... (photo by Angelina Dolman)

Don't miss Byron Coley's very extensive (yet still incomplete!) discographic rundown of Mike Cooper's career, recently posted at

Blog Archive